Two brothers in the Netherlands face months in prison after allegedly siphoning power to fuel a small bitcoin mining operation, Dutch authorities said this week.
The case dates back to 2014, when the brothers, whose names weren’t disclosed, were caught allegedly stealing electricity from a local utility provider to power bitcoin mining devices at a location in Rotterdam. Prosecutors said this week that, in total, the brothers mined roughly €200k ($223k) worth of bitcoin prior to being caught.
Bitcoin mining is an energy-intensive process in which network participants compete to create the next valid block of transactions on the bitcoin network. In return, they receive a reward, which is currently 12.5 bitcoins per block, but was 25 bitcoins when the operation began.
According to the Openbaar Ministerie, the public prosecutorial service in the Netherlands, the brothers have both been charged with money laundering. One brother, who owned the property in which the devices were kept, has also been charged with stealing power and growing marijuana plants at the same location.
Local reports suggest that the younger brother, aged 39, faces up to fifteen months in prison if convicted. The older brother, aged 42, could be sentenced to as many as five months in prison. Fines as high as €250k may also be levied if the two are convicted.
A decision is expected in the next two weeks, local news source De Gelderlander reported.
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